You and I are not what we eat; we are what we think. ~Walter Anderson, The Confidence Course, 1997
The power of thought is remarkable. It has the power to transform our world with an altered perspective; give us the drive to move forward or encouragement in times of need. The mind is truly a wonderful tool. The trouble is when we forget that the mind is just that, a tool.
Many people are caught up in the whirlwind of their own thinking. They get pulled on a long ride that leads to a place they would rather not go, never once realizing that they can choose to question what they believe.
Common thoughts people have about their relationship include: “I need your love”, “I can’t go on without you”, “I can’t live with your faults”, “You should compliment me more” and so on.
When we accept our thoughts as the truth, our thinking influences our behavior. If your mind is telling you that you need love and approval from others you are likely to act in ways that you believe will deliver love and approval.
Additionally, if you are continuously focusing on the need for love and approval you are more apt to overlook the love and approval you already have in your life.
There is an alternative to listening to the voice in your head and that option is to question what your brain is telling you.
Stress, anxiety, depression, disappointment, anger are not caused by events in our lives, but rather how we interpret and label these events. There is nothing good or bad but we label it so, believe our thoughts about occurrences, and in turn this labeling affects us negatively or positively.
There are constantly thoughts that proceed and follow events. Most of us are so wrapped up in our thoughts that we don’t even notice them and the affect they have on our lives. We can become so deeply entrenched in our rut of destructive thoughts that we are unaware of how they hold us back from loving our partners, and finding true intimacy in the relationship.
Byron Katie, author of I Need Your Love- Is This True, has developed a process that helps individuals question their own thoughts and test them with reality.
Questioning your thoughts
Katie has a series of question she asks people with the hope that they will be able to stop believing their thoughts, become clearer and return to reality.
The questions she asks are below….
Is it true? After you have identified the thought that is disturbing you the first step is to ask yourself if it fits with your own truth. Do you really believe the thought that is troubling you? There is no reason for us to believe that our thoughts must fit reality.
Byron states that, “(thoughts) are no more than vague attempts to figure out what’s going on around and inside us. When you’re seeking love and approval, many thoughts are aimed at deciphering the behavior of the people we care about, or theorizing about what’s going on in their minds”.
Example: My husband didn’t call when he was away on business. My husband doesn’t care about me- Is this true?
Can I absolutely know it’s true? For this question, don’t ask if this belief fits with information you have acquired or the way you imagine something should look like or should turn out.
Can you absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, know that your thought is true?
Example: Can I absolutely know that my husband does not care about me? (I don’t know will work here, too)
How do I react when I think this thought? How does the thought that your husband doesn’t care about you affect you? Are you happier when you think about these ideas or do they bring with them stress and discomfort?
How do you react when you believe that your husband doesn’t care about you? How do you feel? Are you better off believing this idea or not?
Who would I be without this thought? Take a moment to investigate how your life would be different if you didn’t believe this thought. Don’t try to replace it with a new positive thought- just sit with no judgments. Create a space for new possibilities to appear without the old thought.
My husband didn’t call when he was away on business. The idea “my husband doesn’t care about me” has the freedom to be interpreted in a number of different ways. He didn’t call because he was deeply involved with his work or he didn’t call because he wanted to take a vacation from home life.
Turn the thought around. Find three different versions of the thought you are holding on to. Turn the original thought around in anyway you want until you find a new version that is truer or as true.
Altering the thought: “My husband doesn’t care about me”
I don’t care about my husband. (When my feelings are hurt I withdraw my affection, get angry and don’t care about how I treat him.)
He does care about me. (He may care about me and still not call me)
I don’t care about myself. (I don’t care about myself when I create turmoil in my life and alienate those I love. I create stress for myself that in turn takes its toil on my well-being.)
Do any of the alternative versions make more sense than the original?
Altering your original thought takes you from the rut of thinking and opens up the possibility of experiencing the situation without judgments. We can become so consumed with thinking we are “right” and needing to defend our original ideas that we avoid entertaining different alternatives that we may be better off entertaining.